Society

1,000 Lakota Sioux Youth Join Protest Against DAPL

Oceti Sakowin is already packed with people. To Native Americans nationwide, the name represents one of the largest encampments set up to protest construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The pipeline cuts a swath through land owned by several tribes, including some plots of land that are considered sacred. A report by Common Dreams explains how Oceti Sakowin began on tribal land inhabited by the Standing Rock Sioux, and has since swelled as more and more people have joined the movement.

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The overflow from the camp is located on land claimed by the U.S. Army of engineers, which basically means protesters are in violation of the law. However, as Forum News reported, the corps “has taken a hands-off approach as it tries to balance protesters First Amendment rights … not to mention the rights of the rancher who has a grazing lease on the and and could be on the hook for any damage done to it.”

AP reports corps spokeswoman Eileen Williamson made a statement, saying “We don't have the ability to go out and evict people -- it gives the impression of not protecting free speech.”

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Meanwhile, 1,000 youth from the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe are making plans to travel to Oceti Sakowin to join the protest effort.

Currently, members are concentrating their efforts on raising $100,000 to fund transport, tents, sleeping bags, and food necessary to support their journey to the protest site, writes Native News.

The addition of 1,000 new protesters represents a boon for the media profile of the DAPL Protest, though it could pose logistical problems for workers unions assigned to the pipeline's construction.

On Sept. 29, 19 members of Congress submitted a letter requesting that construction on the pipeline be halted, according to NBC News.

Then on Oct. 3, five of the largest labor unions in the country submitted a one-page letter to President Obama pleading with the him to side with the construction effort.

As of right now, construction on the pipeline is halted indefinitely, and the addition of more protesters and tribal members has the potential to exacerbate that delay.

In the union letter, workers asserted, “The interventions by the Departments of Justice, Interior, and the U.S. Army to indefinitely halt a project that is more than halfway constructed and has received state and federal approval raises serious concerns about the future of infrastructure development in America, and the livelihoods of our members.”

Sources: Native News Online, Common Dreams, NBC News (2) / Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr